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Biodiversity

Biodiversity


Since declaring a Climate Emergency back in 2019, we have identified five pathways as part of our response. One of the pathways ‘achieve ecology and biodiversity net gain’ aims to increase the biodiversity on campus.

The Campus Masterplan, which leads to 2030 and beyond, sets a blueprint for the future development of the campus. It commits to managing biodiversity holistically and to ensuring biodiversity on campus is better than before.

The Masterplan’s Landscape and Biodiversity Strategy defines four key objectives:

  • Safeguard existing ecological asset
  • Enhance campus biodiversity
  • Sustain and enhance the Great Crested Newt population
  • Encourage site users to engage with the natural environment

The Ecology and Biodiversity Plan provides a framework and methodology for protecting, creating and enhancing habitats and species within the campus and beyond. Some of the areas we are looking to develop include:

  • Making the arable field margins more diverse
  • Biodiverse planting on central campus and further afield to increase the seasonal longevity of some of the planting
  • Adding hedgerows and planting to link habitats and create wildlife corridors
  • Solar panel arrays to support carbon emission reductions with wildflower meadows beneath
  • Increasing the number of ponds and lakes, creating more habitats for Great Crested Newts
  • Additional fruiting and flower trees – visitors will be encouraged to pick the fruit on campus
  • Swales and rain gardens to help manage the water run-off on campus
  • Living walls and green roofs providing additional green infrastructure throughout the campus

Projects to improve biodiversity

We have been working on several initiatives over the past year:

  • Hedge-laying - 50 metres of hedge-laying which quickly creates a diverse habitat for wildlife.
  • Coppicing - this extends the life of different species and new growth can be used for more hedge-laying and natural wigwams. It also creates a unique attraction to different wildlife.
  • Bug hotels - these have been installed across the campus and are built by stacking pallets and packing them with straw and bamboo canes.
  • New mowing practices - different mowing practices were trialled in the summer with 60% reduced mowing % in some areas.
  • Fruit trees - different varieties of fruit trees have been planted.

New pockets across the campus are being identified for tree planting over the next 5 to 10 years. Hedgerow planting will continue and areas will be planted to attract bees, butterflies and insects encouraging more wildlife.

Engagement in our green spaces

At Warwick we feel it’s important to have outdoor spaces around the campus for our staff, students and visitors to sit and enjoy whilst protecting the wildlife. We are looking at new ways to increase social interaction outdoors.

Our nature walksLink opens in a new window around the campus explore many ‘hidden areas’ and we encourage members of the public as well as the university community to take part in our trails which have different points of interest along the way.

We are starting to collate species data, logging where and what wildlife we have and encourage the university community to get involved with supporting us with wildlife surveysLink opens in a new window.

The Jam Grove is an ideal spot to enjoy lunch or just to relax for a while but also provides an abundance of fruit each year for making jam. It is located on the Westwood Campus and was planted in 2015; it is now well established. There are various fruits including quince, plum, gooseberry, rhubarb and strawberries.

The Allotment Society is an active group of students who grow fruit and vegetables.

Test and learn – student projects

Students from the School of Life Sciences undertake 3-month research projects as part of the Taught Master’s courses that we offer. Some of these projects have focused on aspects of biodiversity conservation on the campus and in the region, including the benefits of green space for wellbeing and species monitoring.

Beekeeping on the campus

Beekeeping and research into honey bees has been practiced on the University's main campus for many years, and the current Apiary was installed in 2017 when work started on the new Sports Hub. The Apiary is managed by Steve Poynter, a former employee at the University, and he is supported by Alan Deeley a local beekeeper.

The University campus is an ideal semi rural environment that provides a rich diversity of flora upon which our native honey bees and other pollinating species can happily forage and co-exist. The honey bee colonies are raised from local stocks, and we employ best practice techniques to ensure that the bees remain healthy, and pose minimal risk to the public and other campus users.

The Apiary provides a secure first class facility to support students who are interested in becoming beekeepers. Students are encouraged to learn new skills which will give them the confidence to responsibly manage their own colonies of honey bees. The colonies are inspected weekly from early Spring, and we see how the colony develops as a super organism with specific roles for the bees to ensure that the colony continues to thrive.

Wellesbourne Campus

Our campus at Wellesbourne covers almost 200 hectares of arable crops and field trials run by the School of Life Sciences and a number of local companies. The area, about 15 miles south of the main campus, was originally established as a National Vegetable Research Station following a response to post-war pressure for food production. Crop research has been undertaken here for over 70 years and facilities onsite include laboratories and greenhouses.

The site is home to a wide range of wild species, notable residents include corn buntings, marbled white butterflies and a large population of brown hare.

Providing habitats for sparrows

We are proud to be part of the Arden Farm Wildlife Network, a group of farmers who share best practice on how to improve their farm for wildlife whilst maintaining a productive farm. The network has been awarded funding from Severn Trent’s ‘Boost for Biodiversity’ grant scheme to support a ‘Tree Sparrow Village’ project, providing habitats for tree sparrows.

With the funding the birds are fed with bird seed three times a week from December to May along a track onsite. In spring 2020, additional areas were planted for wildlife with a pollen and nectar mix, and a larger area with winter seed mix for birds. Tree sparrows live in colonies so it is vital boxes are positioned in close proximity to one another. We have now placed 10 next boxes in a selection of nearby trees.

Supporting barn owls

Barn owls have seen huge declines over the last 50 years due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss. By working collaboratively with the Arden Farm Wildlife Network, we are helping to restore their habitat and nesting sites and have installed a new barn owl nesting box.

Nearly 2000 hedgerow trees have also been planted to improve biodiversity and provide corridors for insects, pollinators and wildlife.

Local Nature Partnership

The University of Warwick is part of the Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Local Nature Partnership.

The LNP purposes are to:

  • Drive positive change in the local natural environment, taking a strategic view of the challenges and opportunities involved.
  • Contribute to achieving the Government’s national environmental objectives locally.
  • Become local champions influencing decision-making relating to the natural environment and its value to social and economic outcomes.